I’ve been working for EDP Renewables North America for more than a decade and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to correct a few misrepresentations we’ve recently seen regarding the company and our proposed Wildcat Creek Wind Farm in southwestern Cooke County. I joined the company in 2008 and have personally worked on the development of 10 wind farms with roughly 1,400 megawatts now in commercial operation. I didn’t grow up with a strong interest in renewable energy, but my time at the company has afforded me so many opportunities to not only become a champion of renewable energy, but also to bring meaningful economic benefits to rural communities similar to the one in which I grew up in Kansas.
Our company started off as a small development firm in the late 1990s, established by the Zilkha family in Houston with only a handful of employees. As wind energy became more mainstream, the company grew and in 2005 was renamed Horizon Wind Energy. Energias de Portugal (EDP), like many utilities around the world, saw a business opportunity in the rapid growth of renewable energy in the U.S. and in 2007, EDP acquired Horizon.
Horizon Wind Energy formally became EDP Renewables North America in 2011, and with the backing of EDP, has grown to become the fourth-largest operator of wind farms in the U.S. The company employs nearly 700 Americans, many of whom are based at our headquarters in Houston, and many of whom are working in rural communities across the country at our wind farms and solar parks. We live in a global economy and just like many of the businesses that provide the products and services Americans use every day, EDP Renewables is a publicly traded company with shareholders and investors from around the world. While our parent company is based in Portugal, our roots go deep in Texas.
The electricity produced by our wind farms is increasingly bought by large corporate customers who want to power their facilities with renewable energy. For example, General Motors purchases wind energy from our Los Mirasoles Wind Farm northwest of McAllen to satisfy the electricity demand at its Arlington plant. Chevy Tahoes and GMC Yukons are assembled in Texas via electricity supported by our wind farm in Texas, which is located in one of the fastest-growing communities and school districts in the state. Wind energy fuels an economic cycle by injecting dollars into local economies and attracting forward-thinking companies to Texas that demand access to the clean and renewable energy produced by Texas’ wind farms.
I appreciate the concerns some have expressed about a wind farm coming to southwestern Cooke County. This industry is not new: there are more than 13,000 wind turbines generating over 25,000 megawatts of electricity in Texas alone. From the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley to the Gulf Coast, wind energy is meeting the needs of Texas energy consumers. Concerns regarding property values, health impacts, and other issues are heard, but they simply are not supported by the facts, and certainly not by the experiences of communities hosting wind farms across Texas, and across the nation.
I have witnessed the benefits an investment like Wildcat Creek Wind Farm brings to a community. In my experience, southwestern Cooke County is similar to many communities in which I have worked to successfully develop wind farms, and our Wildcat Creek Wind Farm would bring significant benefits to the community, including payments to local farmers, jobs, and new revenue to the county and school districts.
Rorik F. Peterson, director of development – central region, EDP Renewables North America, Overland Park, Kansas